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Friday, 11 November 2011

SWAZI LAWYERS RESOLVE TO FIGHT ON

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Statement

10 November 2011

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign would like to yet again congratulate lawyers in Swaziland for refusing the intimidation and scare tactics used by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in invoking the name of the king to force them to abandon the on-going judicial boycott.

Yesterday, the lawyers were informed that the JSC had refused to accommodate their demands, made during a meeting over the weekend, that a Commission of Enquiry be established to find the root cause of all the problems, instead sticking its guns out and refusing to ‘compromise’ any further than making minor concessions on the initial demands.

The preliminary agreement reached by the JSC and the Law Society ad hoc committee last week, which were nothing than a tentative agreement subject to the endorsement of the entire Law Society membership, is now being used to blackmail the lawyers into abandoning the boycott.

The JSC now claims that the agreement is binding and will not entertain anything but an end of the boycott. Some of these demands include the establishing of a Commission of Enquiry to get to the root of the problems currently bedeviling the judiciary.

When the new Minister of Justice promised to deal with the lawyers’ concerns upon assuming office recently we thought he was genuine and if yesterday’s events are anything to go by then quite clearly the government and its judiciary wing (this unfortunately is what the JSC has become) have been acting in bad faith with no interest about the country and its image.

The fact that the JSC is also invoking the name of the king, who is already in seclusion, to intimidate the lawyers to abandoning the boycott is itself an indication of the new lows to which they have sunk in. It just boils down to gutter politics.

The lawyers are resolute; they want a commitment and timelines from the JSC on when they shall establish the Commission of Enquiry.

It seems that the government now has a new strategy of dealing with any form of protest; close their ears, allow protest to run its course until fatigue creeps in then enforce the unpopular decision once people are hopeless.

This was seen at how the government dealt with the University of Swaziland protests earlier in the year which ran for months until they fatigued and accepted that government would cut their allowances and give them same in instalments.

It is the same strategy that government intends to use, being stubborn long enough until the lawyers feel the pinch financially and go back to court. This is very sickening and an indication to the lawyers that they should broaden their struggle to include demanding democracy because this government will not listen to their demands. No self-respecting government would allow a judicial boycott to run for even two months without resolving it.

We challenge our lawyer’s and colleagues to work side by side with all pro-democracy groups, in true solidarity, in demanding democracy so that their concerns and more could be resolved by a government that cares enough about the possibility of losing votes in the next elections.

We would specifically like to congratulate the prolific leadership displayed by the Law Society Ad hoc committee led by Lawyer Zweli Jele in handling the lawyer’s grievances and refusing to be cajoled by the JSC into betraying the lawyer’s struggle.

The lawyers know now exactly what we have been dealing with for the past 30 years, a stubborn and contumacious government that refuses to see sense, defies logic and buries its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.

We wish to commend all the men and women of integrity of the Law Society of Swaziland, for refusing to allow financial gain and stomach politics to derail them in their quest for justice. As well as for their standing strong against a system that is hell bent on creating divisions among them by any and all means possible.

In the words of President Mario Masuku, let us all make the country ungovernable and Tinkhundla unworkable.

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